I remember a few years back I was quoted in my hometown newspaper for an article—I don’t remember what the article was about. I remember being particular struck by my quotation. It’s not that it was particularly articulate or profound—I was struck because I had absolutely no recollection of actually having said any of those words to the reporter, at least in the order in which they were presented.
The article was not on a particularly contentious subject; I’m sure that if I were to run for a political office, these words would not be detrimental to my election. Nonetheless, I was offended. I was offended because my voice and thoughts had been infringed upon. I was offended because my own words had been deemed unworthy of repetition. I was offended because the reporter had put words in my mouth.
The prophet Jeremiah was often at odds with God. His calling as a prophet was not one that he often reveled in, but one that at times he appeared to resent. Right here, in Jeremiah’s call, may lay the genesis of this deep-seated conflict.
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.” (1:9, NRSV) These are upsetting words, even coming from God. We have been called to a ministry of proclamation. We are to proclaim the Word revealed in the words of Scripture, even those words we don’t particularly care for. Our journey with God is often a contentious one, as we ourselves struggle with the words that God as given us to share. Yet we are tasked with proclaiming Christ crucified and resurrected.
May we persevere in the hope and knowledge that these words—this Word—is indeed truth and life.
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